Volunteering helps Birmingham's young people into work

A second group of young people have now taken part in our Engage project, designed to support them to plan and deliver a community project, helping them to develop new skills that will hopefully lead to employment.

They had sessions in project planning, budgeting and developed personal plans to give them the skills, confidence and experience to be able to design and deliver their own social action projects in Chelmsley Wood. We also offered the young people the chance to volunteer for a local community interest company (CIC) to enhance their work experience and employability skills.  Once they complete the two weeks with TimeBank we will match them with a volunteer mentor for a further six months to support them to gain employment, start a training course, launch their own business or return to education.

This group of young people was referred by Standguide, a training and recruitment company, as part of the Destination Work programme. All the young people brought different experiences, skills and abilities to Engage, but still worked really well together as a team. I took time to get to know each of them and find out what they wanted to gain from being part of Engage so I could tailor their experience to ensure they got the most out of it.

During the first week they were offered a day’s volunteering with our partner Gro-organic. Gro-organic is an award winning social enterprise specialising in design and construction landscaping, outdoor education and community land based projects.

The group jumped at the chance to support Gro-organic and helped host a fundraising coffee morning in aid of Dementia UK, built a bug hotel to assist local primary schools to learn about conservation, created wind chimes from recycled materials and planted a garden with sensory plants which we hope people with additional needs will find inspiring. It was a really busy day, but all the staff at Gro-organic were really supportive and helpful and were always on hand to explain how to undertake a task or answer questions. 

The young people went above and beyond on their volunteering day and instead of finishing at 1pm asked to stay until 3pm. The weather was not the best as we experienced sleet, hail and almost zero degrees temperatures, but none of the young people complained and they stayed enthusiastic and engaged throughout the entire day. Gro-organic were really impressed with everything they achieved.

Following the volunteering day, one of the young people was offered a role with Gro-organic working with their adults who have additional needs.  Gro-organic said: “She definitely showed potential and seems a practical person; she has knowledge of building and creating things outdoors, and also showed a flair for caring for people.”  Had she not had the opportunity to volunteer with Gro-organic her potential would never have been recognised. This is just another example of how volunteering is a vital ingredient in supporting young people to gain employment.

I am really inspired by each group of young people that I meet and firmly believe that a volunteering opportunity should be offered to every young person as I have seen how much they gain from taking part. I have seen them gain confidence and skills that are relevant to work and offered jobs just from undertaking a day’s volunteering. I feel that Engage is one of the best programmes around and hope we can help as many young people as possible in the Birmingham area.